It’s an unwritten law (in my eyes, at least) that at Christmas, you must have a Christmas cake sat on the kitchen counter – even if everyone in the family hates it, it’s going to come in useful in the event of a grandparent coming over and needing satiating with tea and a wedge of cake. In our house, the making and decorating of the cake is kind of a sacred ritual that for the last few years, has been my responsibility. I take this pretty seriously. Allow me to illustrate the sacredness of the Christmas cake by guiding you through the Sloan Christmas Cakes of the Ages, taking you through the peaks and troughs of my creative Christmas career (and of my dodgy photography skills).
2010 – The Birth of the Ritual
Ok, I was 13. And clearly didn’t think to take a picture of the cake itself. A bit of fondant icing work is visible through that painfully shitty cut out circle, so I’ll give 13 year old me that much credit. Plus I went to the effort of making an actual box for it. With a pretty snazzy name. 7/10 for effort and bubble writing on that box.
2011 – The Coming of Age Cake
Hats off to 14 year old me, I’ve come a long way in a year. We have neat icing, 3D decorations and I’ve even gone and put a trademark on it. I may have bought that little sugar snowman but we’ll overlook that because I’ve even got little animal footprints in the snow. 9/10 (this was obviously the year dad bought a proper camera as well because look at those artsy angles).
2012 – Recession hits
Oh dear. Was I put on a budget for this cake? Did I do it slightly pissed? I could have at least cut the squares straight and got some proper icing for the writing. It’s not even red and green, it’s red and I-tried-to-dye-white-icing-green-with-cheap-food-colouring turquoise. 4/10
2013 – ‘Less is More’
I remember this was the year I had planned on making the cake into a table at Christmas Dinner, complete with turkey, trimmings and wine. But food colouring was expensive and I couldn’t get the hang of making tiny knives and forks. So I made a bed. Only vaguely Christmas themed, seeing as we have beds every other day of the year too, but I’ll give myself credit for the pillows made out of marshmallows covered in icing. 6/10 for cake, 1/10 for the shocking photograph quality.
2014 – The Year I Started Putting Proper Effort In
Definitely one of the stronger candidates for Sloan Cake of the Decade. The thing that I was most proud of was that I found the little hat for the penguin in a random drawer in my room filled with those tiny fluffy chicks you can buy at Easter time (why I have a whole drawer in my room dedicated to those tiny chicks you can buy at Easter time, I have no clue). 9/10 for that hat.
2015 – The Year I Discovered Instagram Filters
Definitely a slumber filter going on in that first photo. Great cake, shame the white icing on top is a bit messy. 7/10 for concept. 4/10 for Instagram filter choice.
2016 – THE CROWNING GLORY
2 stories. 2 types of icing. Gingerbread. 2 days in the making. I crown this the King of every cake I’ve ever created. Although I can’t take credit for the making of the actual cake (I was at uni so mum offered to do it – apparently she forgot to drain the brandy soaked raisins before putting them in the cake though so it’s got an extra 2/3 of a bottle of brandy in it), I must admit I think I’ve done pretty well here. 10/10.
So that concludes the guide through the Sloan Christmas Cakes. Where to go from here? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll have to delve into the world of Christmas skyscrapers or famous landmarks to top this years one. For now, I’m going to go and cry over the destruction of my cake as I go and eat it. If anyone’s interested, we always use the recipe in Nigella Christmas for a traditional Christmas cake. Happy baking!